As mentioned in Part One of this series, there is no stock, one-size-fits-all solution to litter box issues. So while writing my latest book, Total Cat Mojo, I presented my Ten Litter Box Commandments as a way of offering some general starting-point guidelines for your problem-solving detectivism. This four-part series is a condensed rundown of what I discuss in the book. And remember, adherence to even one of these ideas may be just what it takes to find a solution for any of your“outside the box” issues.
Let’s continue with:
Cleanliness Is Next to Catliness
Always Keep the Litter Box Clean
A recent study demonstrated that when given a choice, cats unquestionably preferred a clean box to one that contained clumps of pee or poo logs. Yes, sometimes we do need science to tell us what we already know: scoop that litter box every day.
Never Camouflage the King of Scent Soakers
Your cat has 200 million scent receptors(versus only 56 million in humans), which tells you just how important(and sensitive) that particular sense is to them. That’s why it’s so important to cater to what your cat is attracted to, and, likewise, what they are repelled by. This is why I recommend only unscented litter, with none of those perfumed, sprinkle-in-the-box powders and no air fresheners(plug-in or otherwise) right next to the box. In my experience, those strong, artificial fragrances, including scented litter, can drive your cat away.
Don’t Use a Liner
You might think that liners make your life a bit more convenient, but in reality, many cats don’t like the texture of liners and can even get their claws stuck in them. Plus, liners get scratched and ripped and pool urine, resulting in a huge mess. That’s not more convenient. Just say no.
A Last Word
Now, I know what you’re thinking:“Wait, without those things, the box is going to stink!” The thing is, take my word for it, there are litters out there that fit the bill out there and don’t stink as long as they are kept clean. Here’s the rub: It’s a cat’s smell that makes the litter box a supreme scent soaker—a source of territorial Mojo—and therefore incredibly important. When it comes to scented litter or air fresheners, your insistence about keeping them as part of the landscape signals the breakdown of the basic human/cat compromise that I always talk about as being essential to a good life between you. Same thing goes for other forms of camouflaging—that is, disguising your box as a potted plant, toilet-training your cat, or(in my opinion) using an automated litter box. These are things that are admittedly convenient for humans, but as you will see, rarely work for the cats.
In Part Three, we’ll talk about how the litter itself can play a crucial role in whether or not a box gets used.
To get the full text of the Ten Litter Box Commandments, pick up a copy of Total Cat Mojo here, or at your local bookstore.